Using light in two different processes, fluorescence and absorption, the researchers from the University’s Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS), have been able to detect gold nanoparticles at detection limits 100 times lower than achievable under current methods.
Postdoctoral researcher Dr Agnieszka Zuber said that current portable drill-core detection methods are not sensitive enough, with the requisite sample analysis taking weeks before suitable results are available.
“This easy-to-use sensor will allow fast detection right at the drill rig with the amount of gold determined within an hour, at much lower cost,” he explained.
The researchers have been able to detect less than 100 parts per billion of gold in water. They are now testing using samples of real rock, “with initial promising results”. The work is funded by the Deep Exploration Technologies Cooperative Research Centre, one of the world’s most advanced mineral exploration R&D programmes.
The gold detection project is one of a series of projects covered at this week’s IPAS Minerals and Energy Sector Workshop, where industry representatives heard about the Photonics Catalyst Program, a joint state government and IPAS initiative which supports connections between advanced photonics technologies and industry groups in South Australia.
The state’s manufacturing and innovation minister Kyam Maher said IPAS’s collaboration with partners is stimulating new technologies and contributing to South Australia’s reputation as a knowledge economy.
“The Photonics Catalyst Program helps South Australian businesses, including resources-related companies, identify the emerging laser and sensor technologies that could transform their products or business models,” Maher commented.
“Technology plays a central role in the competitiveness of South Australian manufacturing, supporting innovation, driving product and service development and improving manufacturing performance. It will play a key role in driving change and will underpin the transformation of the South Australian economy.”